Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

A war with no end


I guess we could blame it on Mohammed’s lawyer. Apparently he never got Mohammed to write a will. As a result there was no clear heir to the throne of Islam. None of his sons made it to adulthood. So, some of his followers chose a relative, Ali, to be The Man while others went with a follower named Abu Bakr.

Now, this is a very overly simplified explanation of why today there is the schism between Sunnis (Abu Bakr) and Shiites (Ali). Fights within the family are one thing. But the two wings of the Islamic religion have been fighting and killing each other over this dispute for centuries.

The split was exploited by the British and the French in World War I. They had promised Arabia all the vast lands of the Arab multitudes to Clan leader Abdullah, if he would only help them whip the Turks and the Germans. Well, the Brits lied. The Allies won the war and promptly whacked up the Middle East between France and England. They created nations on paper that in practice have never worked because of the nature of the native population. Not that this ever seemed to bother colonial powers in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

It was only a matter of time that the glue holding these false nations together would split. The basic Arab history and heritage is like this: Me against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, the three of us against you.

This was the reason for the Iraq (Sunni) and Iran (Shiite) war. It is the real reason a civil protest and political movement has now escalated to the death of over one hundred thousand Syrians. It is a conflict, it should be obvious after over a thousand years, that has no end. It is probably the reason that true democracy has had a very hard time in every Muslim country.

And of course, the Jews have their country right in the middle of the most incendiary region for this ongoing conflict. Israel actually benefited from the strong leaders holding the Arab countries together. The thing about dictators is that while a benevolent despot is an oxymoron, those guys kept the lid on outright rebellion by whichever faction felt disrespected for a long time in that region.

No more. The dictators are gone and in their place there is a violent vacuum. The Arab spring was like the real spring in Orlando—about three weeks in duration. Then the regular fissures in Arab culture began to boil over. So, you have an election in Egypt overthrown by the military. Tunisia, where it all started, is still in turmoil. Syria is between a mess and a failed State. Libya the same.

Beneath all the rhetoric, the posturing and the blind hopes of the peaceful, it is the same war over and over and over again. Whether any of the various factions in Syria are able to declare a short victory, the real war starts when Assad finally leaves.

While the Palestinians have always had a reputation of secular distance from the Shiite/Sunni thing—look what has happened in Gaza to the south of Israel. Hamas is in control. They are Sunni. To the north in Lebanon there is Hezbollah. They are Shiite. The major backer of Shiite terror is Iran. The major backer of Sunni terror is Saudi Arabia.

This is a tough time for Israel to think about any kind of final agreement that would create a Palestinian state. Where would loyalties lie? No, they could not avoid the firestorm blazing around them. They would have to pick sides or be torn apart in yet another internecine conflict— with whom would they side? With whom would they make alliances? Either way, the other side would not stand for it.

So, as reported in the New York Times, it is “Castle Time” in Israel. Time to widen the moat, strengthen the military and hope the moat and the threat of Israel’s military superiority keeps the barbarians away from the gate.

This has been building since the Europeans created the problem in their thirst for oil in 1918. But this has gone far beyond a dubious future asset under certainly false borders. The age-old hatreds have surfaced. A people who left the civilized world during the Industrial Revolution are coping with a new world and old conflicts.

Israel must be a bastion of strength during this storm of unknown length. If the U.S. is to be their strongest ally, the time is near when that alliance will be tested as never before. There is no reason to believe that Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions. Not when the fires of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the money from the Saudis are all in play.

America and Israel may be the rallying call of “The great and lesser Satan”—but the real conflict is within and the hatred that boils over could consume us all.


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